Sacramento beer scene: No end in sight to haze craze

Provided by Flatland Brewing

Whether you’re still doing your best to avoid those super-hoppy (and often bitter) West Coast IPAs or you love them but are exploring your options, you may have heard that a Northeast (or New England) style is blowing up big time at Sacramento-area breweries.

In my last Beer Run, I laid out how the hazy style has been both celebrated and criticized here. But craft beer of today doesn’t stand still for long. Sometimes it’s haters one day, believers the next.

Just look at Flatland Brewing, which is releasing its first hazy IPA experiment tonight. It wasn’t long ago that owner/brewmaster Andrew Mohsenzadegan was all about filtered beer and clarity when it came to India pale ale.

“I have been pretty much anti-hazy beer since the whole thing started. I never understood it. I thought it was just an ugly presentation of a cool style,” said Mohsenzadegan.

Then he began experimenting with the timing of his hop additions. The brewing process required lots of pricy hops, including hard-to-get varieties like Galaxy.

“I’m sure there are cheaper ways. But this was a very expensive experiment for us,” he added.

The result is a beer that just might win over more naysayers and thrill those who are already on board with this hazy, flavorful, juicy and less bitter kind of IPA.

In lay terms, the tiny particles suspended in the beer glom onto hop flavors and create new hop oils in the beer that add to the flavor profile and body.

“So that juicy quality that everyone is talking about is actually a new oil compound,” Mohsenzadegan explained.

Flatland’s new hazy IPA is called That One and is 7.1 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). It’s $6 for a pint. The brewery is at 9183 Survey Rd., Suite 104, in Elk Grove. The tasting room is open today from 3-9 p.m.

Sudwerk Brewing in Davis is also getting in on the style. I mentioned them in last week’s column but did not have the space to elaborate. I asked head brewer Thomas Stull to give me his take on hazy India pale lager (not ale).

“It was more a blend of what I hear is done and what I like in a beer,” Stull said via email. “We use a wheat and oats in the mash. Most hopping is done at the end of the boil and whirlpool. The dry hopping is done in two different parts of the fermentation and at a high rate. We process the beer as fast/fresh as possible unfiltered of course. We still use our lager yeast strain, which would be a big departure from the style. Some yeast strains interact with dry hops during active fermentation and I was wondering how ours would. It is something I am doing again, so it went well.

“The first iteration is the Bruja. Here are my tasting notes. Aroma: Big hop aroma, like opening a hop bag. Grapefruit, pine, and guava. Flavor: Citrus, sticky pine and huge hop flavor. We served it on draft at the dock at select accounts. We will have a new one out for the holiday week with some minor tweaks in hops.”

Sudwerk, 2001 2nd St., Davis, is one of the top breweries in the region, so trying Stull’s approach to the haze craze is certainly worth your while.

Blair Anthony Robertson: 916-321-1099, @Blarob